1962 : John Steinbeck

1962 : John Steinbeck

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“for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”



February 27, 1902

Place of birth


Salinas Valley, California, United States



December 20, 1968

Place of death


New York, New York, United States



Novelist, Short story writer



United States

Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1962


He was born in California, Salinas. Senior John Steinbeck, his father is treasurer and his mother, Olive Steinbeck, is a teacher. He has three sisters: Elizabeth (1894-1992), Esther (1892-1986) and Mary (1905-1965). He studied at the school in Salinas, then at Stanford University. He held various jobs, then abandoned his studies and went to New York in 1925. He worked briefly in New York American, but returned to Salinas from 1926. In 1929 he published a first novel, Cup of Gold (Cup of Gold: A Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, With Occasional Reference to History), a historical fiction based on the life of Henry Morgan, which does not meet the success. In 1930, he married Carol Henning and moved to Pacific Grove. There, he met Edward Ricketts, a biologist with which it binds friendship. In 1932 he published The Pastures of Heaven (The Pastures of Heaven), a collection of stories located in the city of Monterey. In 1933 he published The Red Pony (The Red Pony) and the unknown god (To a God Unknown). It then remains at the bedside of his mother who died in 1934. He began to collect information on farmers unions. His father died in 1935. Tortilla Flat, written in 1935, earned him his first literary prize, the gold medal for best novel written by a Californian awarded by the Commonwealth Club of California. This humorous story ensures success. He became friends with his editor, Pascal Covic. With Of Mice and Men (Of Mice and Men) and a dubious battle (In Dubious Battle), published in 1936, his works became more serious. In a letter to a friend, he grieves: “There are riots in Salinas and killings in the streets of this dear little town where I was born. “He receives the New York Drama Critics Award for his play. After Great Valley (The Long Valley) in 1937 and Their Blood Is Strong, a story on immigrant workers, in 1938 he published The Grapes of Wrath (The Grapes of Wrath) in 1939, he considers his best job. However, considering that his writing is too revolutionary for success, he advises his editor at a small draw … The book is experiencing success. He nevertheless accuses the language and ideas developed. The book is banned in several cities in California. In 1940, when the novel was adapted to film, he received the Pulitzer Prize. In 1941, he launched an expedition with marine Ricketts and published in the Sea of Cortez (Sea of Cortez]), written in collaboration with his friend. Steinbeck publishes Black Moon in 1942. That same year he and wife divorce Gwyndolyn Conger in 1943. Lifeboat, which he wrote the script, spell in cinema in 1944. The same year he moved to Monterey, but is poorly received by residents. He moved to New York. He has a first son, Thom (who is the father of singer Johnny Irion). After writing Rue de la sardine (Cannery Row) in 1945, he moved to Pacific Grove in 1948. He began his research for writing To the east of Eden (East of Eden). In 1946, his second son, John IV, comes into the world. He is trying to buy the ranch in which the adventures of the Red Pony, but it fails. The characters Street sardines are found in another novel, Tender Thursday (Sweet Thursday). In 1947 he published The Pearl and in Russia, accompanied by the photographer Robert Capa, the New York Herald Tribune. It draws Russian Journal (Russian Journal) in 1948. Ricketts died in a car accident. It divorce. He met Elaine Anderson Scott in 1949 and married in 1950. In 1952 he took part in Elia Kazan film, Viva Zapata! and publishes To the east of Eden. In 1954 he published Tender Thursday (Sweet Thursday). A musical, Pipe Dream, is drawn in 1955. He moved to Sag Harbor, in New York. In 1957, the city of Salinas proposes to give its name to a school. He refuses. In 1958 is published Once There Was a War, a collection of his stories of war. It was an attack in 1959, which encourages him to travel in England and Wales, then go to America in 1960. In 1962, he wrote The Winter of our discontent (The Winter of Our Discontent) hoping “go back almost fifteen years and again at the intersection where he had gone wrong.” It is then depressed, and believes that the celebrity has hijacked “the real things.” The first criticism of the book are mixed, but it nevertheless receives the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. After another trip to Europe in 1963 with Edward Albee, he received the Medal of Freedom United States in 1964. He died on 20 December 1968 in New York of arteriosclerosis.


Works in English:

  • Cup of Gold : a Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with Occasional Reference to History – New York : McBride, 1929

  • The Pastures of Heaven – New York : Brewer, Warren & Putnam, 1932

  • To a God Unknown – New York : Ballou, 1933

  • Tortilla Flat – New York : Covici-Friede, 1935

  • In Dubious Battle – New York : Covici-Friede, 1936

  • Of Mice and Men – New York : Covici-Friede, 1937

  • Of Mice and Men : a Play in Three Acts – New York : Covici- Friede, 1937

  • The Red Pony – New York : Covici-Friede, 1937 – Enlarged edition, New York : Viking, 1945

  • Their Blood Is Strong – San Francisco: Simon J. Lubin Society, 1938

  • The Long Valley – New York : Viking, 1938

  • The Grapes of Wrath. – New York : Viking, 1939

  • Sea of Cortez : a Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research / by John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts – New York : Viking, 1941 – Republ. as The Log from the Sea of Cortez – New York : Viking, 1951

  • The Forgotten Village – New York : Viking, 1941

  • Bombs Away : the Story of a Bomber Team – New York : Viking, 1942

  • The Moon Is Down – New York : Viking, 1942

  • The Moon Is Down : a Play in Two Parts – New York : Dramatists Play Service, 1942

  • Cannery Row – New York : Viking, 1945

  • The Pearl – New York : Viking, 1947

  • The Wayward Bus – New York : Viking, 1947

  • A Russian Journal – New York : Viking, 1948

  • Burning Bright : a Play in Story Form – New York : Village Press, 1950

  • Burning Bright : a Play in Three Acts – New York : Dramatists Play Service, 1951

  • East of Eden – New York : Viking, 1952

  • Viva Zapata! – Rome: Edizioni Filmcritica, 1952

  • Sweet Thursday – New York : Viking, 1954

  • The Short Reign of Pippin IV : a Fabrication – New York : Viking, 1957

  • Once There Was a War – New York : Viking, 1958

  • The Winter of Our Discontent – New York : Viking, 1961

  • Speech Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature – New York : Viking, 1962

  • Travels with Charley : In Search of America – New York : Viking, 1962

  • America and Americans – New York : Viking, 1966

  • Journal of a Novel : The East of Eden Letters – New York : Viking, 1969

  • Steinbeck : a Life in Letters / Ed. by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten – New York : Viking, 1975

  • The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights : From the Winchester Manuscript and Other Sources / Ed. by Chase Horton – New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976

  • Steinbeck and Covici : The Story of a Friendship / Thomas French, ed – Middlebury, Vt. : P. S. Eriksson, 1979

  • The Uncollected Stories of John Steinbeck / edited by Kiyoshi Nakayama – Tokyo: Nan’un-do, 1986

  • John Steinbeck on Writing / edited by Tetsumaro Hayashi – Muncie, Ind.: Steinbeck Research Institute, 1988

  • Working Days : The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, 1938-1941 / edited by Robert DeMott – New York : Viking, 1989

  • America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction / Ed. by Susan Shillinglaw & Jackson J. Benson – New York : Viking, 2002 – Publ. in England as Of Men and Their Making : the Selected Non-Fiction of John Steinbeck – London : Allen Lane, 2002

Literature (a selection):

  • Moore, Harry Thornton, John Steinbeck and His Novels : an Appreciation – London : Heinemann, 1939

  • Benson, Jackson J., The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer : a Biography – New York : Viking., 1984

  • French, Warren, John Steinbeck’s Fiction Revisited – New York : Twayne, 1994

  • Parini, Jay., John Steinbeck : a Biography – New York : Holt, 1995

  • French, Warren, John Steinbeck’s Nonfiction Revisited – New York : Twayne, 1996

  • Ditsky, John, John Steinbeck and the Critics – Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000

  • Heavilin, Barbara A., John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath : a Reference Guide – Westport, CT : Greenwood, 2002


1962: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Anders Osterling, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy.

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded this year to the Yugoslav writer, Ivo Andric, who has been acknowledged in his own country as a novelist of unusual stature, and who in recent years has found an increasingly wide audience as more and more of his works have come to be translated. He was born in 1892 to a family of artisans that had settled in Bosnia, a province still under Austrian rule when he was a child.

As a young Serbian student, he joined the national revolutionary movement, suffered persecution, and was imprisoned in 1914 when the war broke out. Nevertheless, he studied at several universities, finally obtaining his degree from Graz. For several years he served his country in the diplomatic service; at the outbreak of the Second World War he was the Yugoslav ambassador in Berlin. Only a few hours after his return to Belgrade, the city was bombed by German planes. Forced to retreat during the German occupation, Andric nevertheless managed to survive and to write three remarkable novels. These are generally called the Bosnian trilogy, although they have nothing in common but their historical setting, which is symbolized by the crescent and the cross. The creation of this work, in the deafening roar of guns and in the shadow of a national catastrophe whose scope then seemed beyond calculation, is a singularly striking literary achievement. The publication of the trilogy did not take place until 1945.

The epic maturity of these chronicles in novel form, especially of his masterpiece Na Drini cuprija (The Bridge on the Drina), 1945, was preceded by a phase during which Andric, speaking in the first person of the lyric poet, sought to express the harsh pessimism of his young heart. It is significant that in the isolation of his years in prison he had found the greatest consolation in Kierkegaard. Later, in the asceticism of strict self-discipline, he discovered the way that could lead him back to what he called “the eternal unconscious and blessed patrimony”, a discovery that also signified the introduction into his work of the objective epic form which he henceforth cultivated, making himself the interpreter of those ancestral experiences that make a people conscious of what it is.

Na Drini cuprija is the heroic story of the famous bridge which the vizier Mehmed Pasha had built during the middle of the sixteenth century near the Bosnian city of Visegrad. Firmly placed on its eleven arches of light-coloured stone, richly ornamented, and raised in the middle by a superstructure, it proudly perpetuated the memory of an era throughout the following eventful centuries until it was blown up in the First World War. The vizier had wanted it to be a passage that would unite East and West in the centre of the Ottoman Empire. Armies and caravans would cross the Drina on this bridge, which for many generations symbolized permanence and continuity underneath the contingencies of history. This bridge became the scene for every important event in this strange corner of the world. Andric’s local chronicle is amplified by the powerful voice of the river, and it is, finally, a heroic and bloody act in world history that is played here.

In the following work, Travnicka hronika (Bosnian Story), 1945, the action takes place at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Here we witness the rivalry between the Austrian and French consuls in a desolated, old-fashioned city where a Turkish vizier has established his residence. We find ourselves in the midst of events which bring together tragic destinies. The discontent which stirs among the bazaars in the alleys of Travnik; the revolts of the Serbo-Croation peasants; the religious wars between Mohammedans, Christians, and Jews – all of this contributes to create the atmosphere that, after a century of tension, was going to be rent by the lightning at Sarajevo. Again, Andric’s power is revealed in the breadth of his vision and the masterly control of his complex subject matter.

The third volume, Gospodjica (The Woman from Sarajevo), 1945, is different; it is a purely psychological study of avarice in its pathological and demoniac aspect. It tells the story of a merchant’s daughter who lives alone in Sarajevo. Her bankrupt father had told her on his death-bed to defend her interests ruthlessly, since wealth is the only means of escape from the cruelties of existence. Although the portrait is strikingly successful, Andric here confines himself to a subject that does not permit him a full display of his great narrative gifts. They are revealed fully, however, in a minor work that should receive at least a brief mention: Prokleta avilija (Devil’s Yard), 1954. A story set in an Istanbul prison, it is as colourful in its pattern as an Oriental tale and yet realistic and convincing.

Generally speaking, Andric combines modern psychological insight with the fatalism of the Arabian Nights. He feels a great tenderness for mankind, but he does not shrink from horror and violence, the most visible proof to him of the real presence of evil in the world. As a writer he possesses a whole network of original themes that belong only to him; he opens the chronicle of the world, so to speak, at an unknown page, and from the depth of the suffering souls of the Balkan slaves he appeals to our sensibility.

In one of his novellas, a young doctor recounting his experiences in the Bosnia of the 1920s says, “If you lie awake one whole night in Sarajevo, you learn to distinguish the voices of the Sarajevian night. With its rich and firm strokes the clock of the Catholic cathedral marks the hour of two. A long minute elapses; then you hear, a little more feeble, but shrill, the voice of the Orthodox Church, which also sounds its two strokes. Then, a little more harsh and far away, there is the voice of the Beg Mosque clock; it sounds eleven strokes, eleven ghostly Turkish hours, counted after the strange division of time in those far-off regions. The Jews have no bell to toll their hours, and God alone knows what time it is for them, God alone knows the number indicated on the calendar of the Sephardims and the Ashkenazims. Thus, even in the deep of the night, when everybody sleeps, the world is divided; it is divided over the counting of the lost hours of a night that is coming to an end.”

Perhaps this suggestive nocturnal atmosphere also gives a key to the chief problems that have dominated Andric’s work. The study of history and philosophy has inevitably led him to ask what forces, in the blows and bitterness of antagonisms and conflicts, act to fashion a people and a nation. His own spiritual attitude is crucial in that respect. Considering these antagonisms with a deliberate and acquired serenity, he endeavours to see them all in the light of reason and with a profoundly human spirit. Herein lies, in the last analysis, the major theme of all his work; from the Balkans it brings to the entire world a stoic message, as our generation has experienced it.

Dear Sir – It is written on your diploma that the Nobel Prize has been bestowed upon you “for the epic force with which you have traced themes and depicted human destinies from your country’s history.” It is with great satisfaction that the Swedish Academy honours in you a worthy representative of a linguistic area which, up to now, has not appeared on the list of laureates. Extending to you our most sincere congratulations, I ask you to receive from the hands of His Majesty, the King, the Prize awarded to you.


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